For safety-critical organizations, ensuring that all personnel have the correct qualifications for their role is no small undertaking. The risk of assigning unqualified persons to positions in these industries lies not only in being on the wrong side of a regulatory agency, but also in having staff who are unprepared, and unable to handle complex or emergency situations.
Properly managed qualifications help to ensure readiness, by monitoring current and forecasted qualified personnel. Proactive qualification management, with a Training and Qualification Management System (TQMS) helps to ensure that the correct education, training, and experience are matched with the assigned tasks, enabling alignment of compliance efforts with business goals.
In industries such as pharma, transportation, aviation and defense, each industry has its own standards, rules and regulations to which they must adhere. The need for these rules is quite obvious, yet ensuring that each staff member has the required, up-to-date qualifications can be challenging, requiring strict management of the expiration and renewals of qualifications.
Once upon a time, organizations would have had to sort through stacks of papers to ensure that their personnel have the correct qualifications, before allowing them to perform their duties. When these organizations expanded, they usually adopted spreadsheets to keep track of their personnel’s qualifications. But when organizations reach a certain tipping point, they often find that keeping track in this manner is time-consuming, inefficient and leads to errors.
Organizations must have the essential information about each employee’s status at their digital fingertips, to be able to ensure that anyone in a position that requires specific certifications and qualifications has met those specific criteria. Beyond meeting the initial requirements, after certain periods, recurrent training is often required. In civil aviation, pilots undergo recurrent training – a form of scheduled refresher training – on a regular basis. These ‘refreshers’ offer standardized, structured programs to maintain and build skills and knowledge.
Tracking Qualifications in Safety Critical Industries
In Healthcare, physicians, nurses, pharmacists and paramedical staff must be certified by the relevant medical association (national, state, etc.) before they can begin to practice. Health authority inspections include check of appropriate documentation for all of the workers’ qualifications. License renewals depend upon the profession, as an example, let’s take a look at the renewal requirements for physician assistants in California. These professionals are required to renew every two years, for which continuing medical education is a condition of license renewal.
Before entering the military, personnel must first pass the required security and medical clearances. Once in the army, to qualify for specific positions and roles with additional responsibility, they must pass stringent courses and tests. In parallel, they continue to undergo regular medical checkups. And as personnel assumes new roles, additional security clearances may be required. All these certifications must be tracked in tandem with the health and security checks.
Managing qualifications is a complex, important task for any safety-critical or high-consequence organization, for which serious legal ramifications and other negative consequences arise when conditions are not met.
Benefits of a TQMS
A robust Training and Qualification Management System (TQMS) enables efficient qualification management by offering the following capabilities:
Sets qualification acquisition, renewal requirements and standards
Tracks certifications, qualifications, licenses, security clearances and medical forms
Provides automatic alerts for qualification expiration and upcoming renewals
Offers certification and approval processes
Configure rules for recurrent training and continuation training
Provides flexible configuration options for specific industries, such as taking offset periods for pilots into account
Defines and tracks career development
Shows an audit trail of all updates to records
Safety-critical and defense organizations not only need to ensure that their personnel are correctly certified, they must also ensure that the instructors who train their staff have valid licenses and certifications. Only those instructors who are properly certified can be scheduled in the relevant courses.